Are Shellac Manicures Killing Your Budget? Do It At Home

Updated 04/22/19
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Are monthly Shellac manicures draining your bank account? Sure, they last longer than traditional polish, but is it worth the extra money and trip to the salon? Luckily, you can get all the benefits of a Shellac manicure from the comfort of your home. Hillary Fry, a nail professional, has got any of your general questions covered.

We asked some readers to send in reviews of their Shellac manicures, and we got a great one from Erica, a DIY Shellac-er. Here's what she says:

In most of the reviews, I've read about not being able to apply Shellac yourself. Honestly, it is just polishing your nails. The CND site gives direction and updates on the best practices to the product. It's easy and so incredibly inexpensive to purchase it yourself vs. paying per visit. I am not in the beauty industry... am not typically into the do it yourself, but the first time I had it done at my salon as a test case I loved it and I have had excellent luck at home.

With a little searching, you can find most of the polish options available in salons online, ready for anyone to purchase. Not only can you find Shellac polishes online, but the UV light you need to cure the polish is available on beauty sites like Sephora or Amazon, too. Amazon reviews reveal that some off-brand UV lamps that aren't specifically from Creative Nail Design, the creator of Shellac work to cure Shellac well, but as always, just do your research.

So, What's the Cost Per At-Home Manicure? 

It's obviously going to be a little costly to buy all the Shellac supplies you need up front. But, after giving yourself two at-home manicures, you've already broken even with what it would cost for two salon manicures. Here's the breakdown:

  • Color: The cost of the polish is about $13 to $15 per bottle.
  • Top and Base Coat: You'll need a base coat and top coat, each the same price as a color.  
  • UV lamp: Shellac polish cures under a UV lamp. You can actually find a UV lamp for as little as $10, but I suggest investing a little bit more. A best-selling UV lamp on Amazon with many excellent reviews only costs $40.

For one color, base and top coat and the UV lamp you're looking at spending about $80. Shellac manicures cost approximately $40-$50, so after only two at-home Shellac manicures will have you breaking even. Not bad if you can afford the initial investment. Adding to your initial investment, if you want, would be the Shellac remover, but it only costs $9, so it doesn't add much to your bottom line.

What Are the Downsides? 

  • Research: You'll have to learn from others, finding reviews and instructions online to make sure that your manicure turns out as well as a professional one would. Make sure you take time to research to avoid problems. CND's website also has loads of info.  
  • No help from the nail pros: If your Shellac manicure starts peeling, as some reviews state, or you see any new problems with your nails while using Shellac, you're on your own to figure it out what went wrong.
  • Color options: If you get them done in the salon, you'll get to choose from all of the Shellac colors, not just the one that you spent big bucks on and then realize you hate. In order to always have a range of colors available, you'll need to invest more money.
  • Might not look professional: Let's face it, there are those who can color their hair at home and make it look like they spent hundreds of dollars at the salon. Then, there are others who aren't fooling anyone with their at-home hair color. Same goes for nail polish. Practice is definitely needed here in order for your manicure to turn out looking fresh from the salon.

Our advice: Go get a Shellac manicure at the salon and watch what your nail tech does carefully each step of the way. See what you think of the results both right away and after two weeks. If you're not sure you can do it yourself, don't waste the money. But, if you love it and want to take the time to research it and practice, go for it!

Updated by Hanah Tetro

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